Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is issued in certain work environments to protect workers from the inhalation of hazardous substances; such as gases, solvents, powdered chemicals and sprays. Whether it’s a helmet, visor, hood or mask, the importance of RPE in the workplace can’t be stressed enough…

RPE is paramount in preventing serious health conditions in the future, especially those that affect the lungs. If you’re a worker, you can protect your health by using RPE; if you’re an employer, you can potentially save lives of your employees by issuing protective masks in the workplace.

Tight fitting masks are the most common protective mask, they protect by creating a seal between the mask and the wearer’s face. You can purchase tight fitting masks in the range of styles, including reusable half masks and convenient disposable masks (FFP1, FFP2 or FFP3 filtering facepieces). Loose fitting masks are also available, they are often full face masks which include breathing apparatus, used in areas that present more of a risk to workers.

Protective masks especially need to be used in confined spaces, as many gases, vapours and dusts that aren’t visible to the naked eye are often the most harmful. RPE is especially important when cutting stone, concrete, wood and other materials as well as handling dusty powder or using liquid containing volatile solvents.

RPE needs to be used in a variety of work environments when undertaking a whole host of jobs, from general maintenance to cleaning up spills, arranging control measures and cleaning dusty areas, protective masks are vital in protecting health from hazardous substances such as gases, solvents, powered chemicals, mists and sprays in a confined space. Even if you don’t think you need one, the invisible risks in many work places can be detrimental to health. One of the most common ailments linked to hazardous materials in the workplace is lung cancer, easily prevented by taking the right precautions early on.

Although RPE is essential in protecting workers from hazardous substances, it’s often classed as a last resort due to a series of problems which occur with many wearers. Many people find them uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time and struggle when it comes to communication and vision. Often deemed intrusive, protective masks also interfere with jewellery, makeup, hairstyles and facial hair. Although protective masks can seem a nuisance at the time, the benefits to future health they provide outweigh slight inconvenience and irritation.

However, these downsides are not to overshadow the importance of using protective masks in a potentially hazardous workplace. They are often deemed as a last resort as all measures should be taken to make a workplace safe for employees to work. Responsible steps to control exposure, improve air quality and ventilate the area to avoid the need to use RPE and protective masks.

Looking to buy protective masks, RPE or protective clothing? Protective Masks has a huge range of disposable and reusable masks available to help you make your workplace safer.